Update from 2020: I’m reposting this ugly moment in my blogging history to grieve many things about the past few years. For one, I’m grieving that I put up with people’s bullshit for as long as I did online. I’m also grieving how much I was taken advantage of.
But I’m mostly trying to forgive myself for not standing up for myself sooner and expecting people who hate me to be genuinely understanding. Some people just don’t like us and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. They might not have great reasons and you might want to argue with them but you have to walk away hoping the best for them and then totally move on.
Goodbye old Instagram. Goodbye old blog. Goodbye old dreams.
Social media is fascinating. So many aspects of so-called normal living are magnified times a thousand online.
For example: the online equivalent of familiar and sometimes pleasant interactions you might have with acquaintances day to day in normal life are suddenly revealed to have hidden subtexts or subversive elements that are basically imperceivable when not online. And, the cause of the phenomena has to be a similar sort of psychological effect to the one that causes trolling. People are just more comfortable showing unlikeable traits behind the privacy of a screen
Now, I’m not a particularly naive person, but I can be when it comes to how other people view me. To me, perfume is a form of art. It’s also a cosmetic. And, I love to collect it. However to some it’s mostly a luxury, and there are people who might even call really nice perfume not much more than a status symbol. So, there are people who’s perception of me has likely been affected by my perfume collection and my display of it. I didn’t really and truly realize that until about a year or two ago.
When I first started seriously collecting perfume a few years ago, and sharing photos online, I had one relative who had somewhat recently married into my family, do something that may have indicated some negative feeling about my hobby. I was very surprised and very hurt. In my mother’s family, which is the one this young lady married into, if something is irritating about a relative you’re taught to be tolerant (sometimes just willfully ignoring something for the sake of family solidarity) until it becomes a serious problem to them or you. A perfume hobby certainly wouldn’t fit that criteria. But, she was raised with likely very different ways of both viewing and doing things. Anyway, that was it as for negative reactions at first.
The perfume community on Instagram, where I shared my collection, was brilliant, welcoming and utterly uplifting. It was very easy to be honest. It was very comfortable to share just about whatever you wanted in a respectful way and you knew that there would only be a precious few, if any, mean or rude people who would bother you at all. You could just enjoy beauty and try to help create more of it to the best of your ability.
For about the past year and a half to two years I’ve noticed a sudden uptick in overall negativity. As one facet of that, around then, a lot of people suddenly seemed hell-bent on being perceived as the most wealthy, sophisticated or brilliant among the tip top…tip…top…tip of the “elite” of the community. In typical form, I decided to rebel. Of course, my form of rebellion is never the way most people rebel. Just like how in high school I joined Young Republicans and did canvassing for Republican candidates to rebel, I decided to start talking more about my blessings instead of doing what I was raised to do.
I was taught to never, ever, ever brag. Well, actually, never even come close to almost bragging. But I realized when I was dating my husband that some people don’t understand subtlety and/or manners and you have to actually almost smash them in the face with reality for them to back off and stop being rude and annoying.
There was a woman almost six or seven years older than my husband, Mark, in her 30’s while he was in his 20’s, who was in love with Mark. She happened to be married and she was even very quietly floating around thoughts of leaving her husband for him. However, my husband wasn’t interested in dating her almost at all. He once confessed to me that given his mentality at the time, he would have possibly started officially “dating” her if I hadn’t met him within a year or so, but that it likely wouldn’t have gone anywhere or if it did he wouldn’t have been happy. But she was very determined.
I tried not to make her feel bad and my husband, being the fool that he was about such things back then, tried to create a sort of friendship between her and me. We all went out together. But after a while I got really tired of it. So, while I normally didn’t hold his hand or show any sort of physical affection in front of her (truly, I didn’t) I decided to hold his hand as we all walked around at the Minnesota State Fair. She was livid. And, for the rest of the evening and into the night he became increasingly affectionate with me to the point that she actually apologized to us to some degree for making things previously awkward. That was the last time we saw her.
But see, she just didn’t get it. She didn’t want to really understand. She once said something akin to, “I imagine things the way I want them to be.” I think for folks like her, and there seem to be a ton of them nowadays, some truths are dormant because they so fervently buy into their own lies. You have to be painfully open and honest for them to see the truth.
I’m not sure what to say about the reactions I’ve had to my response on social media. But I will say this, it’s been sad, frustrating, depressing and at times weird. And I think some people think they’re a lot more subtle and clever with their competitive maneuverings and reactions than they really are.
I miss the free, untroubled, real beauty-seeking community I originally joined. Or maybe I was just lucky and the first people who I met were some of the kindest, most genuinely lovely and most intelligent souls. Sadly some of them are rarely ever on anymore and some seem to be different now. Although, there are still a decent number left. And I suppose my response to the shift might have easily made it seem like I changed too, sadly.
But, I really am all about just being yourself. I know who I am and who I am not. Or at least, I aim to. I think it’s an essential part of living freely and living well in general.
It is tricky for me though, because my parents weren’t clear on a lot of things and I grew up being bullied and snubbed by very well-off to rich kids in my neighborhood who came from newly well-off to rich families. It might sound cliché, but in my case it’s the truth. Where I grew up if you didn’t have the right labels, live in the right sort of house, have parents with the right sort of car and possess the right kind of bratty (“mean girl”) attitude you were a social pariah. Obviously, with parents who were taught not to think highly of themselves or their family in the slightest, I had no idea how to react to the intense, and often truly vicious competition. …I grew up to become a little tough, feeling very meek but secure and yet I didn’t understand things entirely. I only realized something was amiss with my understanding in that regard about myself and my family after I married my husband. Previously I made excuses for any dissonance.
Anyway, I’ve labeled us somewhat “old money” but that’s not quite right (although it isn’t entirely wrong anymore either). That term is really loaded.
But for the sake of being honest, and maybe a tiny-bit shocking (I love to do that sometimes if it’s in the right way) here we go: my mother’s and father’s families are all descended from immigrants to the US. In the case of my mother’s father’s family we are likely (and it’s “likely” because it hasn’t been proven as a historical fact yet by the family researchers who have documented us back to the 1500’s when we may have still actually been English nobility originally from France much earlier) the direct descendants of very old English nobility.
One relative on my mother’s father’s side researched it diligently for twenty years and compiled a book years ago but he seemed more fascinated and totally focused on the period in the US leading up to the Civil War and during it, and that aspect of our family in general than anything else. He is a well-off southerner and probably always was though, so perhaps that’s why that part particularly intrigued him (his lineage didn’t have as many or any tragic deaths after the Civil War – more on that in second). I wish he’d done a little more writing about the English origins but more information can be gathered, of course. We do know a lot though, and it does seem to be that we were titled in England and originally from France in the Twelfth Century.
But my maternal grandfather, the likely descendant of nobility and certainly a member of an old southern family (they arrived from England in the 1730’s) was raised in a working class home in Arkansas actually, because many of the men before him (including one who likely fought in the Civil War) had died fairly young and left wives and families behind that had to henceforth fend for themselves. All of the vast wealth and abundance that his ancestors had accumulated over centuries was virtually demolished in the Civil War and his line lost almost all of the rest of their share trying to survive afterwards. But, when my grandfather died in the 1980’s his obituary read that he had graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles and in his later years became a judge. At any rate, he was a very intelligent and creative man who loved baseball and going to the races (horses).
My maternal grandmother did divorce my grandfather though, in the early 1960’s. She was not encouraged to finish college and she didn’t until after she divorced my grandfather and then she taught English for 25 years (although she had taught in small rural schools before that). A brother of hers was a dentist (doctor) and war hero. He started his own business (dentistry). Another brother of hers was an engineer and investor. The others did almost equally well if not better. They were all wealthy (actual millionaires by the 1950’s) or middle to upper middle class. And their parents, first generation Norwegian immigrants, were probably somewhat well-off or close to it by the 1940’s or 50’s.
My great grandparents took a vacation to Norway in the early 1950’s, my great grandfather bought my great grandmother a double-strand really lovely (authentic) pearl necklace, and there were other fairly expensive or expensive purchases around that time too (that I can think of off the top of my head). He also built a nice house (four bedrooms, with a separate sunny room for just her weave-loom, etc) in 1929. Of course, they would have never openly labeled themselves prosperous. Ever. But they were never in debt and they always had enough for things. They were also frugal and shrewd. And they believed such things should never be discussed in polite conversation.
My great grandfather’s father was a math tutor (although he too died young from pneumonia and that was in part why my great grandfather and his sister had to leave Norway – they didn’t inherit anything to sustain them financially in Norway unlike their older siblings) and his family and my great grandmother’s family were at least educated and intelligent people. It’s possible they didn’t actually do that much “social climbing” in America despite the little they actually physically took with them to the US around the turn of the 1900’s.
On my father’s side it’s very similar. Although, his immediate family were somewhat middle to mostly upper-middle class in their community and his parents never divorced. But he’s the black sheep of his family. His siblings are all either wealthy or at least very well-off at this point and so is he. The only difference is that while they already were and then added more with inheritance he solely inherited it (from his parents) and went from middle class to something much more rather quickly. He didn’t pick a career path that fostered abundance, whereas they mostly did. One was a city comptroller for years in Colorado after being a CPA and an accountant before that (his wife is a renowned expert and lecturer in her field). …Another is a gifted CPA and another a businessman and former farmer/rancher.
My father wanted to be professor, but backed away from that for ideological and idealistic reasons and never did move beyond a very middle class position. (although both of my parents finished four year college degrees at respectable schools, of course) He is very well read and quite sophisticated though (I’m being blunt and shocking) and my mother is in her own way too. She has also done a fair amount of traveling. Anyway, part of the money in both families is inherited (it’s old and new both) and I’ll inherit it someday too (I’ve already received some of it).
From where I stand it’s not uncommon to attend Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Brown or blah blah (and yes, I know entrance means a lot, sorry for sounding flippant), and etc. I didn’t because I became clinically depressed in the middle of high school and my grades went down a lot… Truly. I’ve written about in the past.
I went to a good college named Messiah College, but I could have done a lot better. I wanted to ideally go to Vassar or Middlebury College. And although I spent four years at Messiah College, one at a university my father picked because it was close and his alma mater, and I had college AP credit from high school, I am still credits short of getting my degree. I will finish it someday though and probably go further too. (I’d like to finish a PhD)
But I have many relatives and friends who have gone to one or several ivy league schools or something very close (ie Northwestern in Chicago). Some of them teach at those schools now, or could but decided on other paths. My husband went to a school that’s considered a “little ivy” (Union College) and graduated at 21 and with honors. His father wanted him to go to Harvard and made him apply there, but my husband hated his English classes and didn’t get in at Harvard in part because those grades were too low.
And there are people in both families who have been either knighted or have reached genuinely high ranks of some sort for prestigious reasons involving actual work and talent (someone bought a bank, someone else wrote novels and etc.). And, by wealthy, I mean genuinely wealthy according to well accepted standards in the US. And I’m not sharing every damn possibly impressive thing because that’s too gross.
But that, my dears, is where I came from. I’m not a snot. I can be a snob. And if I am a snob it’s not because I see people as being inferior but because I see some things as being crass, rude or wrong. Or people have mistaken something I’ve done or said as snobbery when it’s actually just shyness on my part. …Or sometimes sadness…
One thing that irritates the hell out of me are people who remind me of the assholes I grew up with. Some of them did well, but a lot them didn’t, especially considering their opportunities. Sadly, their parents’ abundance was all they’ll likely ever experience of it beyond perhaps the occasional thing done for appearance’s sake. Actually, the kids who did best were the idealistic nerds (of course) who were always kind to me and who I became friends with. …Or in some cases, just the nerds. I never truly fit in in any group well though.
There. Now go be jerks or whatnot if you want. But, at least I’ve tried to somewhat clearly explain something. Anything else more glamorous or less is nothing I want to share openly. I’ve said all I’ll say, and I know, based on a few interactions, that some people were more than a little curious.
For those of you who are above such lowly and silly things, God bless. I’d like to think I actually am too. But don’t be surprised if I find insecurity and competition annoying, albeit, depending on if you’re an overall ass or not, I may have sympathy for you. And if you have more than me, good for you. Truly!
Try to be comfortable being yourself and if you want more materially or socially than you currently have, go find a way to genuinely and morally get it. And, be humble. It makes it last longer.
p.s. If you want to know my husband’s salary just look what actuaries with years (over ten) of experience and who have passed lots of tests (over seven) make. 🙄